Arcade Game #09: Top Skater
Alright, we’re going to review the arcade-only skateboarding video game, Top Skater, released by Sega in 1997! Before there was Tony Hawk’s series, there was Top Skater, which was built on the Sega Model 2 hardware. It was one of the first arcade games to feature a skateboard controller interface.
In this arcade game, players stand on a skateboard-like platform which swung side-to-side or tilted, manipulating the actions of the avatars in the game. The game has ramps, rails, and other skating objects from which the player can do tricks to gain points. The player has a limited amount of time in which to perform tricks, but can extend this time by collecting time bonus rings or by performing certain tricks. Kenji Kanno, the game’s director, went on to create the Crazy Taxi series, which has similar character art design and style of music. Top Skater also served as a basic foundation for later skateboarding games including Activision’s Tony Hawk’s series. None of the development team members skateboarded; instead, they watched professional skateboarders both live and on video for research during the development of this game, and the game has a lot of product placement, such as Coca-Cola on the game’s billboards. This game does not have a console release.
The soundtrack of the game consisted entirely of these songs by the punk rock band Pennywise (WARNING! Some YouTube links may be blocked in your country on copyright grounds):
- “Society” (from the then newly released Full Circle, WARNING! Age restriction)
- “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (from Pennywise)
- “Homesick” (from Unknown Road)
- “It’s What You Do With It” (from About Time)
- “Dying To Know” (from Unknown Road)
- “Searching” (from About Time)
- “The Secret” (from Pennywise)
- “Try To Conform” (from Unknown Road)
- “Peaceful Day” (from About Time)
- “Perfect People” (from About Time)
The developers selected Pennywise because they felt punk rock was both the most appropriate genre for the skateboarding theme and the best choice to excite players, and some members of the team were fans of the group.
For those who don’t know about Pennywise, it is an American punk rock band from Hermosa Beach, California, formed in 1988. In the past, I had Tony Hawk games but the first two were PSX demos until I discovered the third game and American Wasteland. None of the Tony Hawk games got a Japan release, since skateboarding in Japan was not very common at the time.
That’s it for this game. Samurai Cory out.